Facebook’s main purpose for a lot of us is for us to coordinate with current friends, coworkers, and family, or to reconnect with old friends from way back. However, it may be much more than that in the foreseeable future.
A patent secured earlier in August may allow the social networking giant to help lenders in determining a user’s creditworthiness by tapping into your friends’ Facebook details and information.
How Does This Patent Work?
The patent suggests that lenders may be able to view the FICO credit score of your Facebook contacts to see if you are indeed credible enough when applying for a loan. Your friends’ credit rating on an average, per the patent, would need to be at least the minimum credit score to justify a loan being approved.
Therefore, with the assumption that you would need a FICO score of 640 or more to qualify for a loan, and that your friends’ average credit score would be at 638, that would mean you would not be able to qualify for the loan.
Pros and Cons of This Patent
Assuming Facebook follows through and uses this approved patent to help lenders ascertain creditworthiness, it will not be the first company to use the invention to determine whether a person is a high-risk or a low-risk customer. It could be a boon for alternative lending as a whole, for consumers looking for another way to be approved.
Nevertheless, there are also several drawbacks to such an arrangement.
One risk a few publications have pointed out is the chance of predatory lenders convincing people to make use of the technology if and when it sees the light of day. If all it takes is to consider the average of a person’s friends’ FICO score, it could open things up for otherwise non-creditworthy individuals who happen to have many friends with good to great credit.
Moreover, if lenders make use of any Facebook feature that involves the use of the patent, and allow it to cover business owners trying to take out a conventional loan, that could make it even harder for them to do so, hard enough as it is at the present.
But The Patent Draws Controversy
Considering all the ongoing talk about privacy breaches and cyber-hacking endeavors, it is not surprising that this patent has not been a very popular one in the tech press, and among consumers. After all, it would arguably be unfair if one cannot secure a loan, even with their pristine credit, if many of their friends happen to have bad credit.
In addition, it would not be in good form to unfriend a contact in an attempt to boost the chances of your loan being approved.
Fortunately, Facebook has yet to confirm how it plans to use its patent, and there are existing laws that govern how lenders determine whether you are creditworthy or not. However, the fact that the Menlo Park Company would even consider such a thing has proven to be very uncomfortable and worrying for many consumers.
There are a lot of positive and negative aspects of Facebook judging our credibility. The basics pros are presented in simplifying the tasks for institutions such as banks and companies. Some people have nothing against it, as they see it as an important precaution of identity theft.
Others see it as an an invasion of personal privacy. Facebook already uses its users interests to collect data which is then delivered to advertising companies, that’s why we see only those commercials that are related to our personal interests and hobbies.
If Facebook checks not only our profile but our friends to judge our credibility, though, then it will invade not only our privacy but the privacy of our friends.
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